Monthly Archives: July 2006

War is not nice

The killing of civillians during times of war always seems to shock the world.  It’s like we assume that when two countries decide to drop bombs on each other, they will work assiduously to avoid children, the old, the infirm etc…  The truth of the matter is that when people have reduced their humanity to the point of picking up a gun to solve their differences they are beyond caring about who they hit.

The point of war is to win.  It is to drive your enemy into the ground by any means necessary.  War means death and destruction – dealt out by the strongest of the two armies.  When has it meant anything else? 

So there is no shock for me when I see the Israelis have decided to try to win this little war by dropping bombs on the most vulnerable of populations….children. 

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Indiscriminate Bombing in Lebanon a War Crime

(Beirut, July 30, 2006) – Responsibility for the Israeli airstrikes that killed at least 54 civilians sheltering in a home in the Lebanese village of Qana rests squarely with the Israeli military, Human Rights Watch said today. It is the latest product of an indiscriminate bombing campaign that the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) have waged in Lebanon over the past 18 days, leaving an estimated 750 people dead, the vast majority of them civilians.

“Today’s strike on Qana, killing at least 54 civilians, more than half of them children, suggests that the Israeli military is treating southern Lebanon as a free-fire zone,” said Kenneth Roth, Executive Director of Human Rights Watch. “The Israeli military seems to consider anyone left in the area a combatant who is fair game for attack.”  
 
This latest, appalling loss of civilian life underscores the need for the U.N. Secretary-General to establish an International Commission of Inquiry to investigate serious violations of international humanitarian law in the context of the current conflict, Roth said. Such consistent failure to distinguish combatants and civilians is a war crime.  
 
A statement issued today by the IDF said that responsibility for the Qana attack “rests with the Hezbollah” because it has used the area to launch “hundreds of missiles” into Israel. It added: “Residents in this region and specifically the residents of Qana were warned several days in advance to leave the village.”  
 
On July 27, Israeli Justice Minister Haim Ramon said that Israel had given civilians ample time to leave southern Lebanon, and that anyone remaining could be considered a supporter of Hezbollah. “All those now in south Lebanon are terrorists who are related in some way to Hezbollah,” he said, according to the BBC.  
 
“Just because the Israeli military warned the civilians of Qana to leave does not give it carte blanche to blindly attack,” Roth said. “It still must make every possible effort to target only genuine combatants. Through its arguments, the Israeli military is suggesting that Palestinian militant groups might ‘warn’ all settlers to leave Israeli settlements and then be justified in targeting those who remained.”  
 
Even if the IDF claims of Hezbollah rocket fire from the Qana area are correct, Israel remains under a strict obligation to direct attacks at only military objectives, and to take all feasible precautions to avoid the incidental loss of civilian life. To date, Israel has not presented any evidence to show that Hezbollah was present in or around the building that was struck at the time of the attack.  
 
Tens of thousands of civilians remain in villages south of the Litani River, despite IDF warnings to leave. Some have chosen to stay, but the vast majority is unable to flee due to destroyed roads, a lack of gasoline, high taxi fares, sick relatives, or ongoing Israeli attacks. The sick and poor are those who mostly remain behind.  
 
The attack took place around 1:00 a.m. today, when Israeli warplanes fired missiles at the village of Qana. Among the homes struck was a three-story building in which 63 members of two extended families, the Shalhoub and Hashim families, had sought shelter. The civilians had taken refuge there because it was one of the larger buildings in the area and had a reinforced basement, according to the deputy mayor of the town, Dr. Issam Matuni.  
 
According to the Lebanese civil defense and the Lebanese Red Cross, at least 54 civilians, including 27 children, were crushed to death when the building collapsed. Rescue teams were unable to reach the village until 9:00 a.m. because of ongoing heavy IDF bombardment in the area. None of the bodies recovered so far have been militants, and rescue workers say they have found no weapons in the building that was struck.  
 
Qana was the site of a 1996 Israeli air strike on a U.N. compound sheltering fleeing civilians that killed more than 100 people. Human Rights Watch research established at the time that the 1996 strike was also an indiscriminate attack by the Israeli military.  
 
Human Rights Watch researchers have been in Lebanon since the onset of the current hostilities and have documented dozens of cases in which Israeli forces have carried out indiscriminate attacks against civilians while in their homes or traveling on roads to flee the fighting. A report of these findings and their legal consequences will be issued later this week.  
 
Human Rights Watch has also documented Hezbollah’s deliberate and indiscriminate firing of Katyusha rockets into civilian areas in Israel, resulting in 18 civilian deaths to date. These serious violations of international humanitarian law are also war crimes.  
 
“War crimes by one party to a conflict never justify war crimes by another,” Roth said.


Related MaterialHuman Rights Watch’s work on the Israel-Lebanon conflict
Special Focus

Questions and Answers on Hostilities Between Israel and Hezbollah
Background Briefing, July 28, 2006


© Copyright 2003, Human Rights Watch   

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A Carnival of Islam

Interesting Idea from Abu Sahaj at Wa Salaam

A Carnival of Islam as described on his blog:

“…this carnival is an effort to allow Muslims in the West to express what life is like for Muslims living in the West. It doesn’t matter if you are a US, Canadian or British national, if you are a Muslim living in the West, you fit the criteria and people want to hear your story…”

Check it out for yourselves!

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Shades of Grey

Martijn at Closer has posted something interesting about a picture making the rounds on the Internet.  Like many others, I was shocked at the picture I saw of Israeli children decorating missiles that were destined for targets in Lebanon.  Our emotions being close to the surface as they are these days I as well as many others was quick to judge the picture as being an example of the way hatred was being bred into a new generation of children.

The article below was a reminder for me that we as Muslims should be very aware of the propensity of the media to exagerrate, and tell half truths and outright falsehoods.  How well do we know the blatant disregard for the other side of the story, the human side to the story, the truth of the story?

I’m not saying I believe whole heartedly one version of this picture story over the other.  What I’m saying is I’d rather believe that good exists on both sides of this human conflict, instead of all consuming evil. 

Read the article:

by martijn  Filed under Misc. News, Blogosphere

Lots of trouble in the blogosphere about the picture below. There’s more to it than meets the eye. A nice example of blogjournalism and how it can be done: On the Face :: Putting things in perspective

scheiner.jpg

The photograpers gathered around. Twelve of them. Do you know how many that is? It’s a lot. And they were all simultaneously leaning in with their long camera lenses, clicking the shutter over and over. The parents handed the markers to the kids and they drew little Israeli flags on the shells. Photographers look for striking images, and what is more striking than pretty, innocent little girls contrasted with the ugliness of war? The camera shutters clicked away, and I guess those kids must have felt like stars, especially since the diversion came after they’d been alternately bored and terrified as they waited out the shelling in their bomb shelters.Shelly emphasized several times that none of the parents or children had expressed any hatred toward the Lebanese people. No-one expressed any satisfaction at knowing that Lebanese were dying – just as Israelis are dying. Their messages were directed at Nasrallah. None of those people was detached or wise enough to think: “Hang on, tank shell equals death of human beings.” They were thinking, tank shell equals stopping the missiles that land on my house. Tank shells will stop that man with the turban from threatening to kill us.

And besides, none of those children had seen images of dead people – either Israeli or Lebanese. Israeli television doesn’t broadcast them, nor do the newspapers print them. Even when there were suicide bombings in Israel several times a week for months, none of the Israeli media published gory photos of dead or wounded people. It’s a red line in Israel. Do not show dead, bleeding, torn up bodies because the families of the dead will suffer and children will have nightmares. And because it is just in bad taste to use suffering for propaganda purposes.

Those kids had seen news footage of destroyed buildings and infrastructure, but not of the human toll. They had heard over and over that the air force was destroying the buildings that belonged to Hezbollah, the organization responsible for shelling their town and threatening their lives. How many small children would be able to make the connection between tank shells and dead people on their own? How many human beings are able to detach from their own suffering and emotional stress and think about that of the other side? Not many, I suspect.

So, perhaps the parents were not wise when they encouraged their children to doodle on the tank shells. They were letting off a little steam after being cooped up – afraid, angry and isolated – for days. Sometimes people do silly things when they are under emotional stress. Especially when they fail to understand how their childish, empty gesture might be interpreted.

I’ve been thinking for the last two days about this photo and the storm of reaction it set off. I worry about the climate of hate that would lead people to look at it and automatically assume the absolute worst – and then use the photo to dehumanize and victimize. I wonder why so many people seem to take satisfaction in believing that little Israeli girls with felt markers in their hands – not weapons, but felt markers – are evil, or spawned by an evil society. I wonder how those people would feel if Israelis were to look at a photo of a Palestinian child wearing a mock suicide belt in a Hamas demonstration and conclude that all Palestinians – nay, all Arabs – are evil.

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It’s been a while since I’ve taken the time to write.  I’ve missed my little blog. 

 Life has been busy as usual with the mundane things that tend to steal your time.  Nothing too exciting has been going on.  the weather has been crazy hot here – I look at it as prep for Spain. 

As usual work has been slowly driving me insane.  I have a new appreciation for Sartre’s comment, ‘Hell is other people’.  I keep trying to remind myself that I have one more year to go before I can leave.  Once I’m finished school I can cut back to part time or look for something else.  It’s hard to be grateful sometimes when all you want to do is bang your head against the nearest wall as hard as you can.  I’m gearing up for another school year too, which is going to be nuts.  I’m taking a full course load and I can’t drop any courses if I want to graduate on time.  On top of that I will be doing my undergrad thesis.  It’s going to be pure hell I can just feel it.  At the end of it all I think I should treat myself to something ultra special.  I think maybe a nice well-deserved trip to somewhere like Paris.  Or maybe I’ll treat myself to a hot designer outfit – something from Missoni.  Yeah…that should keep me going for a while.

We deicded to go out for dinner tonight.  We went to a great restaurant in Chinatown and then walked around downtown for a couple of hours.  It was a beautiful night for roaming around – it’s been a while since I’e done that.  Everyone was out tonight enjoying the weather and the sights.  The city comes alive during the summer months so there is always plenty to see.  On our way to Second Cup for some coffee we ran into two ‘scurrry’ looking men bellowing at each other in the middle of the street.  They both had dogs with them and apparently one of them didn’t have his dog on a leash and it attacked the other guy’s dog.  When we walked by the guy, who looked like he had had a good bit to drink, grinned at us and said  “sorry for the language ladies but that guy doesn’t have a f-g leash on his dog!”  Who says chivalry is dead? 

Downtown we decided to walk up Sparks and I swear we came upon little Beirut.  Every two steps there was a different patio blaring arabic music.  Pimped out guys with bottles of gel in their hair stood around and stuck out their chests as we walked by.  The smell of cologne was wafting through the night air – enough to knock you out – maybe they use it istead of rohypnol…?  It was pretty funny. 

We hung out with the tourists for a while at the Parliament buildings watching a presentation on how Canada is a fantabulous country blah blah – we love everyone…makes you feel very patriotic until you remember that jackass Harper is our Prime Minister.  

Fer is back from Saudi finally.  After two years in that cesspool they finally realized they should come home before they all ended up in the insane asylum.  The kids look great.  They are all so big, it’s amazing how fast they grow.  They seem happy to be back and don’t seem to be too scarred from their experiences there.  Kids are resilient though – It’s usually the parents who end up needing to be medicated.  So they are looking for a place to live, for jobs, for furniture…starting over from scratch.  Very boho.  Very ‘Hideous Kinky’. (that’s a movie – get you heads out of the gutter…)  

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J’attends mes vacances

Boring days waiting for my vacation to start.   I’m looking forward to it but my fear of flying is kicking in again.  A few nights ago I dreamt I was on a plane and when I looked out the window I saw another plane burst into a ball of flames in the air.  This always happens – about a month before I fly I start having bad dreams about planes.  I also start having anxiety attacks – actually more like a wave of panic that washes over me.  So I trotted over to my doctor and had her write me out a prescription for something to take…it takes the edge off my panic and usually puts me to sleep.   My Dad is completely unsympathetic – he always says something like “are you scared to die?”, and makes me feel like my deen is weak because I can’t embrace whatever is supposed to happen.  Well he is right, my deen is weak- but I don’t know if he’s ever really experienced that feeling of pure panic that makes you sick to your stomach and freezes your brain.  I have always been terrified of heights.  So I just ignore him and pop a pill and go to sleep 🙂

I have to go to school tomorrow and meet with someone in the Psych office to figure out exactly what I need to graduate.  You’ll be going along taking courses you think are fine and then when you think you’re oaky they tell you you haven’t completed your requirements.  I still haven’t found someone to work with next year. The prof I initally was set up with turned out to be not so cool.  I met with him in March and talked to him about his research etc… I had read a couple of his articles…and he passed me a 50 page paper he wanted me to read and from it develop some ideas that would incorporate both of our interests.  I did that, emailed him and didn’t hear back frm him for a month.  Just when I had given up on him he emailed me and asked me to hold off a little and to get in touch with him the first week of May.  I emailed him again and again I didn’t hear anything from him for a month.  So I said screw it…and then he emailed me in June and wanted to know if I was still interested…I didn’t even bother responding.  I’m already busy burning bridges, look at me!  I don’t care – I was never one to kiss ass – I have always been very upfront.  If you respect me,  I will respect you.  Other than that I owe you nothing.  Okay, I realize he is busy and I am just a lowly undergrad but it’s not that hard to respond to an email, especially when you asked someone to get in touch with you.  I just got the vibe that we wouldn’t get along – I think he prefers students who will be in awe of him and I don’t have time for that.  I am completely professional, I get my stuff done, I will bend over backwards to do what they ask but I am not stroking anyones ego if he doesn’t have basic manners. 

So I’m still on the lookout for a supervisor.  I had a prof last year who I was interested in as well, but she left on sick leave.  She is back this year- the only problem is she is a raging alcoholic.  She came into the lab one morning and almost killed me with the alochol on her breath!  I wouldn’t care except last year she got really out of control and started falling, and calling students stupid…they actually took the class away from her and we ended up learning close to nothing.  On th positive side she is brilliant, and has a long stellar career and if she can control her drinking a bit I think it might work out. 

Anyways all this is moot if I can’t pay my tuition.  I am broker than broke…I need an easy way to make 5000.00 that doesn’t include pole dancing.

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Je ne regrette rien…

French forgive as Zidane explains

By Alasdair Sandford
BBC News, France

It had the makings of an address to the nation from the head of state.

Across the country, families gathered round TV sets; in bars they ordered extra drinks.

The sports daily L’Equipe ran a cartoon of Zidane sitting behind an ornate desk, alongside a French flag – as if about to speak from the Elysee Palace.What France and the world wanted to hear were the precise words Marco Materazzi had said to Zinedine Zidane during the World Cup final to provoke the red mist.

Zidane apologised for his headbutt but said he did not regret his actions, alleging that Materazzi had insulted both his mother and sister.

Zidane’s refusal to repeat the exact words still has everyone guessing.

Even so, commentators were lining up within minutes of the broadcast, mostly to praise the newly-retired footballer.

Non, il ne regrette rien
Headline in France Soir newspaper

The 24-hour television news channel LCI devoted an entire half-hour programme to Zidane’s two interviews.The former French coach Michel Hidalgo described his explanation as “touching, dignified, human”.

Bernard Tapie, the maverick former chairman of Olympique Marseille, said the player had shown lots of courage.

Reverential

Earlier this week, the same sports daily had harsh words for Zidane after his red card.

How could he explain his act, it asked, to the tens of millions of children watching around the world?

HAVE YOUR SAY

He did not have a word for his team-mates, whom he perhaps cost the World Cup
Liberation newspaper

Now that the player has apologised, the paper’s tone is once again reverential.

“Zinedine Zidane has spoken,” says the editorial. It was his “solemn way of saying ‘au revoir’, after the missed chance of Berlin”.

The tabloid France Soir compares the player’s words to those of Edith Piaf. “Non, il ne regrette rien,” says the front-page headline.

Inside the paper, the president of the CRAN, an umbrella group of black associations, draws a parallel with the violence of the “banlieues”, France’s poor suburbs.

For Patrick Lozes, the headbutt was unacceptable but sprang from a similar sense of exasperation.

“Why do we come to understand Zidane,” he asked, “but not the young people in the suburbs?”

Dissenting voice

The left-wing daily Liberation offers a rare voice of dissent to the chorus of approval for Zidane’s appearance.

However deplorable, it notes, insults on the football pitch have always existed.

The astonishing thing was that at 34 years old, Real Madrid’s former playmaker had fallen for what his team-mate Lilian Thuram described as an “Italian trap”.

The paper goes on to compare Zidane’s sending-off with that of David Beckham in the 1998 World Cup against Argentina.

Then, the reaction of the 23-year-old Englishman was contrite, recognising that he had damaged his team.

“Zidane did no such thing yesterday,” says Liberation. “He did not have a word for his team-mates, whom he perhaps cost the World Cup.”

‘Tackle racism’

Some find what he had to say about racism in football just as significant as his account of the headbutt.

Throughout his long career, says L’Equipe, never had Zidane evoked the subject with such conviction.

In the second interview he gave, on France’s main private channel TF1, Zidane spoke of his desire to see Fifa tackle racist comments on the pitch.

He singled out the Italian senator and prominent Northern League politician Roberto Calderoli, who has been quoted as saying that France “sacrificed its identity by fielding a team of blacks, Islamists and communists”.

“Is that not worse than what I did?” he asked. “It shocked me.”

France has not lost its admiration and affection for Zinedine Zidane.

A newspaper poll this week found that 61% of French people had already forgiven him over the headbutt.

Some politicians would dearly love to be so revered after such a disaster.

On Friday, another world-famous figure will address the French nation.

The contrast to the frenzy surrounding Zidane’s television appearance could not be greater.

If another opinion poll is to be believed, two-thirds of French people believe President Chirac’s Bastille Day speech is of no importance.

Published: 2006/07/13 12:05:21 GMT

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He is Zidane

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He doesn’t give interviews so we may never know what happened

We have our own opinion…

1.He is North African (’nuff said)

2.The Italians are annoying cheats

3.The Italians had been fouling him all day and they were no calls against them

4.The Italian made some racist comment (like usual)

5.He is Zidane…no excuse needed

Leave it to Zidane to not only try to head-butt someone but to head-butt them in the heart.  He was like “you little bastard, I’m going to stop your heart”.

Bloody dirty, nasty, cheating Italians should never even have gotten to this stage.

 We still love you Zizou!

All about the man

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